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Die Glocke
by Thomas P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2017 16:13:15

This sketch artifact description is also part of 'Ken Writes About Stuff Vol 1' (and you should consider to rather by that). It is a interesting and thoughtful read with good ideas how to introdruce the artifact in a campaign or to set up a whole compaign around the artifact.

However, it is only a sketch and only one artifact. Nothing more and nothing less. Kenneth Hite has tons of clever ideas (and famous historic knowledge). But AFAIK, he was not written a full-blown advanture and/or campaign so far. That's a real pitty!

If you looking for ideas and/or some inspiration to chisel a campaign on your own (or you are VERY good at improvisation) this might be all you want.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Die Glocke
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RMS Titanic: The Millionaire's Special
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/23/2017 09:20:04

OK, we all know that the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank on her maiden voyage... but what else was going on? In this adventure, the Investigators - all travelling aboard and in First Class, no less - meet a gentleman who has a mummy (the Egyptian sort) that he's going to donate to an American museum but is eager to show it off to anyone who is interested. There's a legend that anyone who looks at this particular mummy's face is doomed, but that's all a silly superstition, isn't it?

The background for the Keeper explains how the being doomed stuff is not quite as silly as it sounds (with a little bit of help from the Mythos, of course) and provides a spine for the adventure. This begins with a luncheon date with the mummy's owner and ends (naturally) with a certain iceberg... There's some interesting background on the trans-Atlantic trade of the time, and a quite detailed timeline of the Titanic's voyage. Rather neatly, all the encounters and events of the adventure are included in the timeline, making it clear what is going on around the Investigators as well as whatever they are focussed on at the time. There's a goodly sprinkling of NPCs who do not have anything to do with the plot, another nice touch to remind players that the world does not revolve around their characters... subplots such as shipboard romances or gambling games are also encouraged.

There are vivid descriptions of scenes, the Titanic was noted for her luxury and there is plenty to draw upon here as you set the scene for your players. Six pre-generated characters are provided, or you can use/generate your own, but they will need a high Credit Rating to be in first class. Additional rules material is provided for everything from playing cards to surviving in icy waters. The actual sinking is handled well, and perhaps at least some of the Investigators will survive... or will something else catch up with them? There are some general notes about handling subsequent events should you have survivors on your hands.

Overall, it's a good exciting adventure which could probably be played out in a longish evening. Fact and fiction are woven together well but as always when dealing with real events, be aware of your group's needs - I have a role-player friend who lost an ancestor on the Titantic and was very upset and annoyed about the movie, I'd not invite him to play this... but for those without such a connection it makes for an excellent game and knowing what will happen adds a certain edge.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
RMS Titanic: The Millionaire's Special
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Trail of Cthulhu: Flying Coffins
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/22/2017 13:58:11

This adventure takes us back to the First World War, to early 1918 with the Investigators as intrepid pilots in the British Royal Flying Corps. The German pilots seem unnaturally successful... and of course, Mythos creatures are behind it all. How will our brave aviators get on?

The background material explains which Mythos creature is to blame - they're to be found in the atmosphere around 20,000 and resent these pesky impertenent humans in the flying machines intruding into 'their' airspace. At least they don't care if the intruders are British or German, they are annoyed by all of them! Or at least, not until one of the Germans paints a 'good luck' sign on his aircraft - unfortunately one suggested by a sorceror relative who showed him how to draw a Yellow Sign. The spine of the adventure is laid out, and with the help of no less a worthy as Arthur Conan-Doyle (currently working as a war correspondent) and the urging of Military Intelligence, the Investigators find themselves engaged in aerial duels with a leading German ace...

There is a section on aerial combat, both game mechanics and an idea of tactics, with quite an elegant system to handle an aerial dogfight between two aircraft. There's an example to demonstrate the system in action, and details of the aircraft used by both sides in the conflict. Anti-aircraft fire, attacking ground targets and other aspects of earlu aviation warfare are also covered. There is plenty here to empower some exciting combat in the air during your game.

It all begins with a sortie to destroy a German observation balloon somewhere over the Western Front. During the ensuing dogfight, the Investigators notice a flying creature hauling a pilot bodily out of his aircraft and flying upwards with him, casually tearing his head off as it leaves! From then on the adventure intensifies as the Investigators try to find out what is going on and then after several aerial encounters comes the climax of the adventure, with Allied forces making a big push on the ground with aircraft of all nationalities swarming overhead.

Six pre-generated characters are provided, and there are some good photographs of appropriate aircraft. If for whatever reason you don't want to play members of the Royal Flying Corps a few changes to names and backgrounds - and to the aircraft they fly, of course - will enable you to play American, French or even German aviators instead.

This adventure provides an interesting glimpse into how the Mythos can disrupt conventional warfare (even if it's almost by accident), a neat bit of alternate history that provides for an exciting scenario. The rules for aerial combat work quite well, even if you don't want to add the Mythos into the mix and prefer a 'straight' WW1 aviation game or campaign.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Flying Coffins
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Trail of Cthulhu: Hell Fire
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/20/2017 08:24:00

This a historical adventure, set in the 1760s mostly in England with a side trip to the Colonies. It revolves around preserving the reputation of the Hell Fire Club, an organisation dedicated to rational philosophy (God does not exist... in a day and age when everyone believed or at least gave lip-service to religion) and fine literature (as in, pornography) - not perhaps the most respectable body, yet many otherwise upstanding members of society belong to it.

There is plenty of background for the Keeper including what is actually going on and the REAL threat to their comfortable Club life, notes on the times and relevant rules changes: some alterations to skills and rules for adjudicating a duel. These are normally conducted with a sword, and all gentlemen should know at least the basics of wielding one. Fortunately pre-generated characters are provided, and it's probably best to use them. Unless you are really into this period of history, it will probably be a one-off adventure.

The adventure begins when the Investigators meet in a coffee house (consider the origins of Lloyd's of London, it's either that or a similar establishment) with a fellow Club-member who wants help. A lady is trying to force him into marriage, most unsuitable - I mean, she's the sort of person who's been posing as a life model - but has some letters of his she is threatening to use to take him to court in a Breach of Promise case if he won't. He's arranged for her to visit tonight and wants the party to go and purloin the letters whilst she is out at his place. Needless to say, it's not the letters they find when they go round... and what are those American fellows doing?

Events develop thick and fast, with an emergency meeting of the Hell Fire Club, various events on the streets of London and assorted avenues of enquiry to follow up all amply provided for... and there is an inquisitive journalist poking around, and some ladies of negotiable affection to deal with as well. There probably will not be too much combat (unless the party fights a lot of duels) but there is plenty of interaction, and to put matters properly to rest will involve a trip to Bermuda to deal with those Colonials! A suitably dramatic climax provides an opportunity to save the day, indeed the entire New World.

This is an interesting adventure that - like all good alternative history - blends historical fact with plausible plotlines, weaving the whole into something that might have been... it makes for a cracking adventure with plenty going on!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Hell Fire
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Trail of Cthulhu: Many Fires
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/17/2017 08:55:00

This is an unabashed Pulp-style adventure set in northern Mexico, with plenty of adventure and action, evil cults and wielders of magic to keep everyone on their toes. Basically, the Investigators are asked to accompany an ageing General Pershing to Mexico to finish what the Mexico Punative Expedition of 1916 began, dealing with rebels... but of course there's a bit more to it than that.

Pre-generated characters, with backstories that weave them into the plot, are provided and their use is recommended unless you want to run this as part of a larger campaign with existing Investigators. If you are doing that, some hooks to help you get them involved with the trip are provided. There's plenty of background on Mexico and the people involved available for Investigators to discover through the usual channels before they go - and a big section of Secret Background for the Keeper's eyes only: the lowdown on what is really going on... and what Pershing is really up to.

The adventure itself starts with the party leaving Cuidad Chihuahua for the Valle de Bustillos where all the action takes place. Plenty of material is provided about places to visit and people to interact with, this should help bring the adventure to life and fuel the action. There's all sorts of folk here from natives and even a bunch of Mennonites to rebels and members of a fire-worshipping cult. Following the clues should eventually lead the party to witness the climax of the adventure: a scene straight out of Indiana Jones with cultists enacting a ritual to summon their deity... will they manage to stop them?

Following this is a magnificent array of resources and information for the Keeper, with plenty more NPCs, weird drugs to sample and more. Finally, there are character sheets for the pre-generated Investigators. Each has their own background showing their involvement not just with the adventure at hand, not even just with Pershing, but with each other as well. This needs to be handled carefully as it has the potential to set them against one another - not all groups of players like that, but you know your players better than the authors! Amend as necessary. There are also some beautiful handouts (even if the list thereof refers to 'Page XX' several times - look it's about the only proofing error here apart from confusion between 'discrete' and 'discreet' in one of the character sheets!): maps, documents, newspaper clippings and the like.

It's a well-presented alternate history adventure with plenty of pulp action, neatly weaving Mythos fiction through known historical fact to provide something that proves extremely entertaining to run.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Many Fires
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Cthulhu Apocalypse: The Apocalypse Machine
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/16/2017 09:18:47

This work contains advice and additional rules for running Trail of Cthulhu in a post-apocalyptic setting (as if either the Mythos or an apocalypse weren't enough to cope with on their own). This pitches the Investigators as some of the few human beings to have survived whatever disaster occurred, trying to cope with the situation... and finding that the Mythos has survived as well! Or may even have instigated the apocalypse...

Information here ranges from designing your own apocalypse to new Occupations, Skills and Drives appropriate to a post-apocalyptic world (and notes on how existing ones will work in the new setting). Apocalypse World assumes a Pulp style of play, although it may not be quite what you are used to. It also splits the setting into two periods: Aftershock, when the apocalyptic event has just happened, and Wasteland, set some time later when things have settled down a bit, or at least folk have realised that this is their new reality.

To start with, however, you will need to decide what happened to bring about the apocalypse, to destroy the world as you know it. Certain criteria are set. Humanity is well-nigh gone, some 99.99% of human beings have died in the event although the Investigators have survived (or their ancestors did if you have taken your Wasteland plot a generation or two into the future). The effects must be global, there's no scampering off to take refuge in an unaffected part of the world (well, maybe the Antarctic bases have survived...). Oh, and Mythos entities are taking the opportunity to arise, even if it wasn't them behind the apocalypse in the first place. So, the cause of the apocalypse may be human-driven, it may be the Mythos or it could be a vast natural disaster - the next dinosaur-killer asteroid, perhaps. Or a disease, or earthquakes or... get the picture? Life on earth is quite fragile when you start thinking of ways to wipe it out.

This is a thumbnail sketch, and there's even a diagram provided... but there are also whole sections on Causes, Disasters and the Casualties of the event to help you set it all up. Depending on your chosen Cause, humanity may or may not have any hope of surviving, see any prospect for a long-term future. Whatever the mechanism you decide on, the world ended on 2 November 1936 (if it was something that happened relatively slowly, like a disease spreading, it started earlier but things came to a head then). This means that if you want a nuclear holocaust, you will have to mess with history a little as research into atomic weapons did not begin until 1939. Some notes on how to go about this are provided.

Interestingly, though, you are encouraged to go beyond the suggestions, to redraw the diagram. To set the tone of your game, you are invited to visualise four dials. Their settings will influence what your game is like. The Humanity dial looks at how survivors relate to one another. Do they work together or is everyone they encounter a threat or a resource? The Time dial tells you how long ago the apocalyptic event happened. At zero, it's... happening right now and your Investigators have a grandstand view. If it's high, the Old Days are things of memory, or even forgotten. All people know is the harsh reality of now. The Weird dial is a measure of how strange things have become (apart from the collapse of civilisation itself, that is). Are there mutants or people with psychic powers wandering around? What sort of monsters are loose upon the world? The final dial is the Adrenaline dial. This measures the balance between madcap pulp-style adventures and grim struggles for survival. Will the Investigators watch the world they knew decay around them... or will their adventures give them the opportunity to do something about it? Either can work, or something inbetween, it all depends on the style of post-apocalyptic adventure you want.

Next is a survey of Occupations. Some are existing ones - what on earth is a Socialite to do now? - and others are new to the situation. All give ideas about how an Investigator with that Occupation can use his skills to best effect. Remember that it will depend on how long ago the apocalypse happened: if it's happening now Investigators can have modern Occupations that they will have to adapt to the new situation, but if it was many years ago when the Investigators were children or not born at all, they may never have had the chance to follow certain careers.

A section on Drives follows. What makes each Investigator want to actually investigate the horror around him, rather than hunkering down and concentrating on survival? Some of the regular Drives in Trail of Cthulhu won't really work at all in this setting, but others really come into their own. There are some new ones too, like Preservation of Knowledge and Witness (who wants to record what is going on, even if he isn't sure there's a posterity to record it for). Then comes a list of Investigative and General Abilities, honed to the apocalyptic setting. There's one change from the core rules: having an Ability does not mean that you automatically have access to whatever tools or equipment you need. Finding them can be part of the adventure, after all. There are examples of how to use each Ability, and suggestions for the Keeper as well.

Next comes Sanity and Stability, beginning with a look at Sources of Stability and how they work in this setting. With most human beings dead, this may mean - especially if the apocalypse has only just happened - that your Sources of Stability have died too. Perhaps it is their memory that keeps you going. Or maybe you don't know what happened to them and the search and hope is your motivation, what you cling to. Of course, this - and Pillars of Sanity - provide targets for the Keeper. There's plenty here to help you make use of them in the game. Mental illness and defence mechanisms round out this section.

The Equipment section comes next. Some things, hitherto rare, are easy to find - or to take at will (consider a jewellry shop - now you can pilfer it to your heart's content, with no store owner to complain, no police to arrest you!). Others will have to be scavenged for, you cannot go down to the shops to get them. And you might have competition for resources. There are rules for scavenging and for making equipment here, as well. Another way of getting hold of the things you need is barter. Find someone who has that thing, and bargain with him as to what he wants for it. Perhaps something else that you have (or can acquire for him), or maybe you can do him a service. A defining characteristic of the post-apocalyptic setting is that normal activities become much harder... but don't get too bogged down, unless the focus of your campaign is on actual survival.

The next section is The Afflicted. Of those who survived the apocalypse, some are... not the same any more. They may look different or have new and strange mental powers. Needless to say, 'normal' humans treat them with suspiction if not outright hostility - and many Afflicted hide their differences as a result. The cause of these changes will depend on why you had an apocalypse in the first place... and it may be that nobody knows just why (the Keeper should, but he might not be saying). Moreover, Afflictions can be acquired - and there's an interesting way to weave these into your Investigator, by giving him Affliction Points rather than Improvement Points: they are used in the same way to improve his capabilities, only now those increased capabilities have a strange origin, an unnatural expertise that cannot be explained in a normal manner. There are other weirdnesses as well, and of course all are pretty disturbing particularly when encountered for the first time. There's a discussion of psychic abilities and what can (and cannot) be done with them. For those who choose to use Affliction Points to improve Skills, there's an interesting discussion of how the way you use that Skill will change. All quite disturbing to behold, no wonder Stability checks may be called for!

This is followed by a section of Mythos Entities, remembering that with the apocalypse (whatever its original cause) they're now able to walk the face of the earth more freely than before. Here are notes on many of them, what they are after and what the might do now that they've been unloosed! Finally in the 'open to all' part of the book (although it's possible that the Keeper may restrict quite a lot to keep the underlying mechanics secret) is a very useful section of Tips for Players, which all prospective players really ought to read. Here it reminds them that each adventure has a core question, which the Keeper should lay out. Don't stop until it has been answered! There are thoughts on using Drives to best effect, investigating horror no matter what, not getting sidetracked (particularly by mundane matters like day-to-day survival... yes, it needs doing but that's not what the game is about), and building relationships. Read it and be mindful of it during play.

Moving on, Building Mysteries is designed to aid Keepers in devising and running a strong campaign in the apocalyptic setting. Starting with the basics, it walks through deriving a fundamental question for the Investigators to answer, building an adventure spine and weaving in people and events to make it all interesting. It makes for interesting and inspiring reading, and could prove useful for anyone planning post-apocalyptic adventures, even if outside of this particular game system (indeed this whole book would make good background reading!)

Finally, The Decaying Earth lays out a timescale for the collapse of civilisation as we know it. It can help you determine the state of affairs right now in your game, and provide a roadmap for what's going to happen down the line. It's unlikely that the Investigators will make much difference as nature reclaims everything. There's also a chart to help you determine how difficult it is to find things as time goes on. It may be surprising to see how hard it will be to find books... there again, they are made of paper and if you are short on fuel to stay warm or to cook, they may get repurposed.

Overall, if you want to bring the world as we know it to an end in your game, this is a very good manual. Of most use, of course, if you play Trail of Cthulhu but there are enough useful ideas and concepts that I'd recommend it whatever ruleset you run your post-apocalyptic world under. It looks at a wide range of considerations without getting bogged down in trivial detail, and makes for a thought-provoking read.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Apocalypse: The Apocalypse Machine
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Trail of Cthulhu: The Repairer of Reputations
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/10/2017 07:39:26

This adventure has an intriguing basis: it takes a piece of speculative fiction written in 1895 but set in 1920 and dumps the characters straight into the middle of its plot in a fine alternate history. The story is called The Repairer of Reputations by Robert W. Chambers, inventor of The King in Yellow stories about a play so warped it drove all who read or see it insane, which was adopted by Lovecraft and his followers and woven into Mythos lore.

The first part of this book is Chambers' story itself, well worth a read if you have not encountered it before and, of course, pretty-well essential if you are going to run an adventure based upon it! It tells the tale of a hideous conspiracy, one which is stopped (barely) in the story but in the adventure things are changed around a bit and it is the Investigators (naturally) that stand between a mostly-peaceful, idyllic even, alternate America and the machinations of Things That Should Not Be, a plot that would place a minion of Hastur on a newly-created imperial throne.

Next we read of the alternate history, giving America a surface tranquility but at a cost our modern minds would view as being far too high to bear. A truncated character generation system is presented to provide semi-pregenerated but personalised characters for your players who will fit in to the alternate America as it is their home. They are further developed during play, giving an almost story game air in places as once the Investigators have had a chance to introduce themselves, one is selected by the Keeper to begin the scenario and he then has to call on others as their particular talents are needed, with scope to define that Investigator's persona as they are introduced into the action.

As the adventure begins, all this is laid out clearly for the Keeper, but you will have to ensure that your players know what is expected of them. It is very much an adventure of interaction and investigation, the plot unfolding before their eyes... but violence lurks closely underneath the urbane surface, and there is ample opportunty for a brawl as the adventure reaches a climax. Various conclusions are provided, from which you can choose the most appropriate outcome based on character actions.

This is an intriguing and well-presented adventure, by its very nature a one-off, with a subtle nightmarish air to it. Pick your players carefully, with the right people it will prove a memorable game indeed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Repairer of Reputations
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Trail of Cthulhu: Out of Time
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/09/2017 07:54:32

This is a compilation of four previously-published adventures - Not So Quiet, The Black Drop, The Big Hoodoo, and Castle Bravo... it's nice to have them all in one place, and at least one is no longer available as a stand-alone product. Each is set in a specific time, mostly outside the core 1930s setting used for Trail of Cthulhu - one from the First World War and two set in the 1950s - and all can be played Pulp or Purist, depending on your tastes. Due to this timeline, unless you've introduced time travel into your game it's unlikely that you will want to fit them into the same campaign and you may well want to make use of the pre-generated characters provided for each one.

Not So Quiet is a one-off scenario, with pre-generated characters provided, set in a military hospital located just behind the lines in Belgium during the First World War. It's written as a purist adventure, but if you prefer to go a bit more pulp some ideas are provided to enable you to run it in that style.

There's some background that explains what is going on at the hospital, then it's on with the action, with the opening scene being in an ambulance convoy heading towards the hospital. Those characters who are injured and who will become patients at the hospital should determine with the Keeper what wounds they have and how they acquired them, this can be dealt with in a flashback scene (which may be held in reserve by the Keeper to be run at a dramatically-appropriate moment). For those who have been posted to the hospital, likely as medical staff, there's a slightly calmer introductory scene... but everyone ends up in the same ambulance convoy, although they do not know each other at this point. Then it comes under fire...

Assuming they survive the attack, everyone arrives at the hospital. It's pretty chaotic. Injured characters will have to be assessed and assigned to wards, those who have come to work here need to report in and be assigned their duties. There's also a rather excitable chaplain to deal with. From then on in it is a case of trying to figure out what is going on, with a host of NPCs to get to grips with, and various events and encounters as they figure out what is happening and how it can be halted.

Designed for a single evening's play it has the scope to be intense and highlight how even worse war can become if the Mythos gets mixed in. However, the mix of characters provided may not be ideal - it's hard to see how they will gel into a team - and an endnote suggests possible solutions mostly based on creating your own characters. Intended as a one-off, there are no thoughts for a follow-up - although it might possibly be used as a 'prequel' to a regular game: this is where the Investigators met and first encountered Things That Should Not Be, then skip ten years or so and they meet again to commence their adventuring careers.

Next, The Black Drop. Cabable of working well in both purist or pulp modes (or a combination of both) this adventure is set in the remote Kerguelen archipelago (far south in the Indian ocean), which is just about to be abandoned. Oddly, just as the settlers depart, a German expedition arrives with mysterious purpose... and what lurks there, in the bleak rocks?

The background explains all for the Keeper and lays out the terrible choice facing the Investigators. You may decide to keep this as a one-off, or notes are provided if you prefer to weave it into an existing campaign (but bear in mind that this adventure may well be the party's last if you do). Pre-generated characters are provided and they are, of course, all embedded into the story. If you are using your own characters, assorted reasons for why they might be there are provided.

The adventure itself begins on the voyage to the Kerguelen Islands, and there's plenty of interaction to be had (and clues to be picked up) before the ship arrives there... and a bleak, cold and unwelcoming place it is, too. Everyone is dropped off, their ship has other matters to attend to and will be back to pick them up in a couple of weeks. There's a flurry of activity with the last few settlers packing up, the German expedition turns up having lost one of their number and again there are plenty of opportunities for interaction and to find yet more clues... and then things begin to go wrong. Murder and arson are the least of it...

The Investigators will be able to wander the main island pretty much as they please: there's plenty to be found... and a fair bit going on. And eventually they will find... well, the climax involves a dark and dreadful deity, cultists hell-bent on restoring his power and even greater fanatics trying to stop it. Anyone not ending up a sacrifice or in some other way dead will be very lucky indeed.

There's a wonderful sense of bleakness and approaching menace, a creepy cinematic atmosphere that thickens with every moment. NPC notes, handouts, a couple of photos of wildlife, and maps of the islands (and a ship plan) help you keep on top of everything and create a chilling adventure that will live long in the players' minds (there's a good chance that their characters won't survive to remember anything, though)... and all under the threat that if that deity isn't stopped things look bad for the entire world.

Based on the real-world demise of an early rocket experimenter in 1953, The Big Hoodoo messes with real events and people shamelessly, mixing a twist of Mythos madness into what is known about the demise of one Jack Parsons, who had been experimenting with rockets in his backyard and, according to the police, blown himself up through careless handling of rocket fuel. But the Investigators - his friends - suspect otherwise...

Pre-generated characters are provided for what is supposed to be a one-off adventure. Use them, they are embedded into the plot... even if the players may be a bit surprised at some of the names! Four are provided, but there are copious suggestions for additional ones if you have more players. It is intended to be played in the style of film noir, deep on background, with an array of faintly seedy characters following their own agendas. History has been messed with, however, and a few bits have been changed around. You may prefer to change them back. Here we have a Daedalus Vance Wimpole who runs a cult called Psychohistory. This is based on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, but you may know Psychohstory as the science or art practised in Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels - in THIS alternate history, Asimove wrote the Academy series using a discipline called Scientology. If you or your group find that too confusing (I do!), then change them back.

It all begins at the wake for Jack Parsons, which the Investigators are attending due to links with science-fiction fandom, in which all - including the dear departed - have been active. From then on in, it's a descent into a swirling morass of magick ritual that bodes ill to summon up something that really ought not to walk this earth... or are some such somethings already here, possessing NPCs or even an Investigator? As usual, victory will be achieved by preventing the climactic ritual from being enacted.

There's a lot going on, and hordes of NPCs with their own concerns and requests, an investigative journalist nosing around... and of course a host of clues to pick up. You will need to read through the entire adventure carefully before running it, but everything is quite well laid out down to the best mannerisms for bringing individual NPCs to life. There are several useful handouts and sidebars brimming with information - there's a lot for you (and subsequently the Investigators) to take in.

Although presented as a one-off, this needs more time than the standard 4-hour convention slot, or even an evening's play - there is really too much to pack in although it might be possible if absolutely necessary. It would be far better spread over two or three sessions. It's a low-combat, high interaction adventure, a delightful alternate history involving many names you have probably heard about.

Lastly, Castle Bravo is set in 1954, rather more modern than most of Trail of Cthulhu, and it sets the Investigators as sailors and scientists off on a cruise to watch an atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll. Needless to say, after the first test shot in the series, strange things begin to happen and it's up to the party to save themselves and their ship... if they can! As this is likely to be a one-off adventure, pre-generated characters are provided.

There's no real need for a hook, the Investigators are aboard the ship whether they like it or not. There's a backstory that explains just what is going on, and then the pre-generated characters are presented. There are six (a naval helicopter pilot, a meteorologist, a naval chaplain, a medically-qualified research scientist, the ship's master-at-arms, and a corpsman) although it's recommended that the adventure works best with four players. They are presented in narrative format, so it's probably worth transferring them to character sheets before the game. Then it's on to the adventure...

This begins very early in the morning (it's still dark) with the ship on station 38 miles from the test site, about five minutes before the test shot is scheduled to take place. The Investigators can get to know one another and key NPCs at this time. Neatly, each character has a personal chunk of 'background knowledge' which it is suggested that you hand out at this time. A map of the area and a basic blocky plan of the ship are provided to help everyone get orientated. There's also quite a lot of scene-setting detail so those unused to naval operations can get the feel of it, and know where and who the important individuals (like senior officers) are. Then the bomb goes off...

There are real-world issues to deal with as a matter of urgency, but that's not all what with spooky visions and several crew members behaving oddly. There's lots going on and as time progresses it gets weirder and weirder. Investigators who retain their health and their marbles will be kept busy. Saving the day - at least as far as the world in general is concerned - may require drastic measures... and there is a remarkabky eerie ending if they fail!

This adventure has atmosphere and mounting horror in spades and could make an excellent movie, it's pretty cinematic. In style, it's mostly 'purist' but with a bunch of military around might trend towards 'pulp' depending on character actions. It's definitely a stand-alone adventure, but one to be relished to the full.

They are all good adventures, and this is a useful collection to have if you enjoy one-off adventures exploring specific aspects of the Mythos. They are all exciting and character-driven, with the usual risks to life, limb and sanity any Investigator expects.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Out of Time
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Trail of Cthulhu: The Rending Box
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/07/2017 07:48:22

This adventure comprises the final revelation in Graham Walmsley's series of Purist adventures. This may sound a little strange, each adventure has been presented as a one-off with the recommendation that you use the pre-generated characters provided with each one (given that they will probably be mad or dead by the end of the adventure anyway). However, as a group of players (rather than as their characters) your party may play all of them and so see the underlying strands that culminate in the revelations of this adventure.

It all concerns an antique box, which the Investigators are asked to take from London to a contact up in the Lake District, a professor who studies folklore. Put it this way, this box makes Pandora's Box look like a benign ornament. After explaining the background, what there is to be discovered and the 'spine' of the adventure, we meet the pre-generated characters. You'll have to transfer them on to character sheets before distributing them to your players, but they do come with ample background material that gives them ready-made reasons to get involved. Finally before the adventure itself, there are notes on the main NPCs including their background and notes on how to role-play them to effect.

Then it's on with the adventure, detail upon detail, clue upon clue, leading the party inexorably on to their fate. At some point, probably, they will open the box. Don't push them (most Investigators will not need to be persuaded to take a peek), although there are some hints to help whet their curiosity if they seem reluctant. That's when the fun really starts. Delightful suggestions are given on how to present just how weird the contents (and their effects) are: this is something you can have a lot of fun playing out. Everything builds to a climax, out in the woods... and however the party deals with it, the ultimate ending is the same. You ought to have players, never mind their characters, freaking out.

A fitting climax to the series, with good backlinks, and an excellent adventure in its own right. There are a couple of errors a good proof-read ought to have caught, otherwise presentation is excellent, with some interesting handouts linking in the previous adventures.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Rending Box
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Looking Glass: Hong Kong
by ian s. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2017 08:00:55

As always an excellent liitle gem from Pelgrane Press, can reccomend it without reservation.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Looking Glass: Hong Kong
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Six Packed
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/27/2017 04:27:47

An Enzdeitgeist.com review

This adventure for Esoterrorists clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page references, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! Our take centers on the machinations of two individuals, namely George Bingham and Fred Seymore, Ulster Loyalist Defense Force loyalists who seek to re-incite the hostilities in Northern Ireland by means of terrorism. With their group recently losing most members due to disillusionment, the two have killed the son of an IRA member, one Jeremy O'Leary - and act that has shown a gulf between the two, for George seems to not mind, whereas Fred was less enthusiastic. Alas, even that semi-botched hit (which included a car crash) was not enough to make the terrorist goals work - it is here that George, in his desperation to see his cause fulfilled, met one woman named Deborah McArgill - who is an esoterrorist. She introduced George to the ritual to call forth torture dogs to carry out acts of terrorism, requiring "only" the sacrifice of a loved one and 4 children per torture dog. The ritual was carried out in a slaughter house and was successful, leaving Deborah and George in charge of 5 of the hellish beasts - and they plan on using them, as Deborah has secured a job at a hotel where the North Irish Catholic delegation is hosted.

After a brief flow-chart illustrating the structure of the module is helpful and the module is particularly designed to allow for scene-skipping, which makes it pretty well-suited for convention gaming etc. The OV agents begin their investigation with the aforementioned slaughterhouse (which comes with a VERY basic, schematic b/w-map) - it is here that the PCs will find the body that gives this module its name - in case you didn't know: "Six Packed" is a non-lethal form of punishment, in which someone is shot through the feet, ankles and hips - oddly, though, the man has thereafter been killed, which is very weird. It should be noted that the rules-nomenclature has changed since this was released, so that is something for the GM to bear in mind, but yeah. PCs will notice that the blood under the body is too plentiful for one being, which may point the PCs towards the meat-grinder, where the remains of the immigrant children used in the massacre can be found.

At the scene, the PCs may question a Polish girl working at the plant and the chef of the meat processing plant - though oddly, one of the bullet points in Jenny's write-up lacks the results for spending some points, which is weird. Vince can potentially identify the thugs that borrowed his facility - which points towards the Alexis family...but further investigation of these notorious persons does not yield the suspect, but does net the information that Fred and George were those that rented the facility...and may also note that the family is NOT amused by having the facility "blow up" - and thus no longer be any good for future...problems. As an optional encounter, this may result is a bit of combat, as the Alexis family sends a hit team after the PCs, with a car-chase/fire fight. The consequences for a veil-out here could have used a bit more guidance.

At Fred's apartment, an old lady may yield the clue that Fred was seeing a girl (that would be Maggie)...and indeed, both her and Fred's laptop (in her possession) yield the information that he was planning on leaving the ULDF - it is also from the old lady, Maggie, and the laptop that the PCs can piece together that George and a mysterious lady were cooperating...and that they are prime suspects for the dread massacre that cost Fred his life. At this point, the PCs will probably have a lead on a mediterranean catering service...and it is here at the very latest that the PCs can find out the final location of the intended hit, as Deborah, with a new hire (George) has left for the Ancient Farm Hotel housing the delegates.

Here, things take a turn for the dangerous: Deborah and George are armed with silenced weapons and are driving away - a hostile altercation may send the MI5-operatives running...but nonetheless,, stopping the esoterrorists may be worth the harder veil-out...but the timer's ticking: The drugged torture dogs have been brought inside the hotel and the PCs better hurry...the drugs will soon wear off and the PCs have a veil-out to think about. Torture-dogs (which come with a glorious, twisted b/w-artwork) have btw. an integrated drill, toxic spikes that generate a sensory link between the creature and the PC and telepathy...yeah, OD entities are not there to cuddle.

Weird: The veil-out doesn't even mention the potential car chase and killed esoterrorists, though the process in the hotel has some basic coverage, though it is not very detailed, making it an afterthought at best.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not as good as in later offerings by Pelgrane Press. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard and the pdf has 2 nice b/w-artworks and a stock photo in color as artworks. Cartography is as basic as it gets black lines on white, abstract and pretty rudimentary, but functional. The pdf does not have any bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort-detriment.

Paolo F. Bongiovanni's "Six Packed" represents a linear, quick to play scenario that makes most sense as an introductory scenario, for the plot itself is pretty much the atomic esoterorrist storyline. The hotel could have used more details regarding people present, infiltration methods and finding the ODs, making it pretty evident that this section is intended to be glossed over in favor of getting quickly to the final confrontation. This is not bad, mind you, but neither will it blow any experienced GM away. It hasn't aged that well and while the low price makes it still a decent offering, it is not something that will blow veterans away. How to rate this, then? Well, as a first scenario, it works well and I will rate it as such - 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. If you're already into your Esoterrorist game, have experience with ToC or NBA, round down instead - players experienced in GUMSHOE games will waltz through this. The one exception to this would be convention gaming: For a convention, this may be worth getting and rounding up, as its simple structure allows for quick modification if time concerns are a factor.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Six Packed
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Trail of Cthulhu: The Book of the Smoke
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/09/2017 08:20:18

Written completely in-character, this work is subtitled "The Investigator's Guide to Occult London" and is purportedly based on the research of the recently deceased Augustus Darcy. Perhaps, if you are using Bookhounds of London, this has turned up in your characters' bookshop. Or, in any campaign, it has come to the Investigators' attention in some manner, a useful resource if their investigations take them to London.

If you are the Keeper, a thorough study of this tome will reap great rewards in terms of local colour and the myriad ideas for plots that will spawn as you read through it. Do, however, share it with your players; let their characters consult it during the game or even let them read it at their leisure between games.

The main part is a discussion of places, an occult gazetteer. Divided into geographical areas (beginning with the Square Mile of the City of London itself), entries are then alphabetical, making it relatively easy to find the one that you want. For each location there are notes on relevant occult connections (note: occult, rather than Mythos), with frequent references to ghost sightings, inexplicable feelings or smells and the like. Much lies unexplained - and that's the fun part, any one might become the basis of one of your plots, or at least be part and parcel of it. You barely need to lay out the clues, they are here for the party to find for themselves! Period images mingle with snippets of lore at every turn.

There is also a section on various people, some historical like John Dee, others supposedly contemporary figures of the occult scene. Perhaps the Investigators will encounter them in their travels, or seek one out if their knowledge is appropriate to the matter in hand. Again, reading many of these entries suggest encounters and plots a-plenty.

As a casual read this is a fascinating work. Even if you are not a role-player, or prefer other genres of game, it makes for an entertaining read if you have an interest in occult lore or indeed if you know your way around London - if you are not near to there, you can pull up most of the locations on Google Maps! (Or if you have Bookhounds of London, the extensive 1930s London maps therein will come in handy in orienting yourself.) If you do play any Myths-related game, or one based in the 1930s or thereabouts, it becomes an invaluable in-character resource.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Book of the Smoke
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Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/07/2017 08:33:26

Most Investigators are accustomed to having, in the course of their investigations, to consult the odd musty tome in the library - but have they ever wondered how they got there? The core idea of Bookhounds of London is that the party consists of book-dealers who hunt down and sell said dusty old tomes, and get dragged into dealing with what some of them cover almost by accident...

The first section, Bookhounds, is all about creating appropriate characters from somewhere in the rarified yet disreputable book-dealing world. (OK, I know it's set later and is about the Devil rather than the Mythos, but the movie The Ninth Gate keepts floating around my mind at the moment.) There are some new occupations directly engaged with the rare book trade as well as suggestions about how to twist existing ones to suit. There's also a fascinating new Ability called The Knowledge, which - similar to a London black cab driver - confers an encycopaedic knowledge of what's to be found in London and the best route to get there.

Next, a look at Bookshops. The idea is that all Bookhounds (which is what Investigators are called in this campaign) are based in and around a store, run by one of them who has taken the Bookseller occupation. There are various rules for defining stock and other such matters (if you want to go into so much detail) but the real purpose of the bookshop is as a focal point for adventures and a home base for the Bookhounds themselves. Various types are discussed, from a book-barrow under Waterloo Bridge to fancy high-end stores and high-end auction houses.

Appropriately, the next section is The Purchase of Curious Tomes. While the book trade itself is important in this type of campaign, it's not central and some groups may wish to keep it more in the background than others. The rules here enable the simulation of a thriving book store's operations without bogging down in too much detail, and there's enough terminology to make you all sound the part. For those too young to remember 'old' British money, a complex system ditched in 1971 in favour of the decimal system in use today, there are notes on that, although it's suggested that you abstract rather than getting too bogged down in your pounds, shillings and pence. Estate sales, auctions... complete with dramatic rules for auctions when you want to play one out.

Next come Libraries. The sort we are interested in here don't lend, you have to go there - and be allowed in - if you wish to consult their books. Even when you have gained admittance, the sort of books that interest us here may be on restricted access. Several suitable libraries in London are described, with notes on how to get in and the books to be found there... and then of course we have the Books Themselves, beginning with physical details and then moving on to notes on the different kinds of occult works to be found. Sample genuine historical occult books are listed for some local colour, before moving on to Mythos Tomes with again a few examples.

We then leave the books aside, with a massive section on Thirties London. There's loads of flavour text to help you get a feel of it, with rumours and contacts galore. Different sections of London are outlined, and it makes for a fascinating read never mind a useful resource. The survey is followed by a section on The London Mythos which discusses cults and individuals, complete with plot hooks and other notes to get them mixed up in the stories that you have to tell. Many call upon monsters, so the next section is London's Monsters. Each comes with copious notes to make them easy to use when the need arises.

Then comes the strange magick of Megapolisomancy. This weird art uses the city itself to cause change to occur in accordance with will - it may be something you can study like other arcane arts or perhaps it is used insinctively by those steeped in a city's lore. The extensive material here will let you incorporate it into your game: whether you let the party use it or reserve it for NPCs is up to you.

Now to practical matters with a section on Running a Bookhounds Campaign. There are plenty of styles to conjure with here, read through and decide what will suit the group and the stories you have to tell best. Ideas about, enough to spawn several campaigns... and that's before we reach the NPCs. There are example bookstores, complete with owners, staff and their own bookhounds, as well as individuals of interest. Even if you don't want to run a Bookhounds campaign, these could come in useful if more regular Investigators want to interact with them during the course of their adventures. These NPCs come with a range of options, shaded to suit the style and needs of your campaign: customise them to your heart's content.

The discussion then moves on to Scenarios. Like any other for this game, they provide a series of encounters and clues that lead to an horrifying glimpse of the Mythos lurking just beyond the ken of normal folk, occult mysteries revealed. Structure and pacing are discussed, mechanical tools that if used during the design process ensure that the whole thing stays on track and delivers suitable horror-laced entertainment to your group. Use maps liberally to give a feeling of location and with liberal use of plot hooks, character-driven adventures, and contacts you will soon be up and running. As an example, there's a whole adventure, Whitechapel Black-Letter, to get you going. There may be a book at its core, but this scenario provides scope for plenty of action as well!

Appropriately for a book about books, there is an extensive bibliography in back, along with some floorplans. Perhaps the Mythos is loose in the Palace of Westminster (home of the British Parliament), or there are clues to be found in the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum or even London Zoological Gardens. The Tower of London, the Victoria and Albert Museum (the Vic and Al, as it's known to locals) or the British Museum itself might contain that for which you seek. There are plenty more maps as well, street maps of most of London (I can even find the street where I grew up!), plenty for your group to explore. Various forms and appendices round this work off.

Not only does this provide a very novel slant to adventuring, there's the tremendous resource of London laid out for you whatever you want to do there, and an inside look at the book trade that provides the tomes your Investigators (be they Bookhounds or not) find themselves pouring over. And there's a cracking adventure to boot!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London
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Cthulhu Apocalypse: The Dead White World
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/07/2017 08:28:50

This book contains the first three adventures of a twelve-part campaign, Cthulhu Apocalypse that presents an horrific end-time in which life on earth is almost wiped out to be replaced by Mythos creatures. Only the Investigators stand in the way of utter disaster...

Five pre-generated Investigators are provided (in somewhat narrative form, best to transfer them to regular character sheets before giving them out), or players may create their own. Some advice for certain aspects of the characters is given. Everyone starts on a train going to Dover, with many intending to go to a wedding there. Next, the supporting cast of NPCs is listed, with brief notes and ideas for how to role-play them effectively including mannerisms and style of speech. This preparatory section also includes some notes on game mechanics specific to this campaign. One neat trick is that along with a hook, each adventure begins with a question. It is suggested that this question is read out to the group, giving direction as to what they ought to be investigating.

The first adventure is Dead White World, which begins with a train journey, is punctuated by an earthquake, and ends up with a large proportion of the world's population dead or dying. The question, unsurprisingly, is What caused this apocalypse. Opening with the Investigators regaining consciouness and realising that the train they were travelling in has crashed, they are soon plunged into an eerie world where everyone that they find is already dead. And there are these strange white flowers everywhere...

Rather oddly, after leading the Investigators around Dover as they try to find out what is going on, the final clues are to be found on a ship. Yet the adventure ends with them back on land and finding a Royal Mail van... there's no hint about how to get them on shore (more earthquakes and the cliffs falling into the sea never mind what else is going on is, to my mind, an invitation to seek sea room not return to the land), yet that's where the next adventure begins.

The next adventure is Letters From Ghosts and revolves around letters from recently deceased friends and family of the Investigators that are found in the aforementioned Royal Mail van. How did they get there? That's the question. The entire clue chain comes over as rather forced and requires the Investigators to take a precise series of actions to end up where it is intended that they should go. On the plus side, there is a marvellous opportunity to mess with your Investigators' heads. Use it to full effect. It's all really a bit strange, even given the overall premise, but persevere: there are clues to be found and places to visit, even survivors to meet... ultimately Blackpool, the setting for the third adventure.

The final adventure in this book (remember there are more to come in the campaign) is Sandgrown. The earlier clues have led the Investigators to believe that they have to go to Blackpool to stop an invasion - the question being, how? Here, they find some more folk who have survived so far (or have they?) and eventually, after a few mind-blowing sights, discover the awful truth of the one way in which they can stop the invasion.

The whole thing is a slightly uneasy mix of very little direction yet expecting the Investigators to go to specific places and take an interest in particular things. The underlying concept is excellent if a bit final. The world as you knew it has most definitely ended, there's no changing that. Resources are good, and there are some really inventive ideas here. With the right group, you could have an epic and memorable campaign on your hands.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Apocalypse: The Dead White World
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Trail of Cthulhu: Not So Quiet
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/02/2017 08:00:24

This is a one-off scenario, with pre-generated characters provided, set in a military hospital located just behind the lines in Belgium during the First World War. It's written as a purist adventure, but if you prefer to go a bit more pulp some ideas are provided to enable you to run it in that style.

There's some background that explains what is going on at the hospital, then it's on with the action, with the opening scene being in an ambulance convoy heading towards the hospital. Those characters who are injured and who will become patients at the hospital should determine with the Keeper what wounds they have and how they acquired them, this can be dealt with in a flashback scene (which may be held in reserve by the Keeper to be run at a dramatically-appropriate moment). For those who have been posted to the hospital, likely as medical staff, there's a slightly calmer introductory scene... but everyone ends up in the same ambulance convoy, although they do not know each other at this point. Then it comes under fire...

Assuming they survive the attack, everyone arrives at the hospital. It's pretty chaotic. Injured characters will have to be assessed and assigned to wards, those who have come to work here need to report in and be assigned their duties. There's also a rather excitable chaplain to deal with. From then on in it is a case of trying to figure out what is going on, with a host of NPCs to get to grips with, and various events and encounters as they figure out what is happening and how it can be halted.

Designed for a single evening's play it has the scope to be intense and highlight how even worse war can become if the Mythos gets mixed in. However, the mix of characters provided may not be ideal - it's hard to see how they will gel into a team - and an endnote suggests possible solutions mostly based on creating your own characters. Intended as a one-off, there are no thoughts for a follow-up - although it might possibly be used as a 'prequel' to a regular game: this is where the Investigators met and first encountered Things That Should Not Be, then skip ten years or so and they meet again to commence their adventuring careers.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Not So Quiet
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